Thoughts about our National Pastime and occasional thoughts for the Good and Welfare of the Reader (and maybe the writer)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Trainng is Really not about the Game

I said yesterday that I do not want to write about steroids and I still don't. ARod did not make the 150 mile bus trip but this guy was ready. I asked him why and he mumbled something that sounded like, "My 15 minutes bro. My 15 minutes."

The final score is interesting to some people and the Yankees lost to the Twins in the game I saw today. The A team (well the B+ team) won the first three at bats, but when it was time for the B players and C players to take over, as they say in the Bronx, fuhgeddaboudit.

But, it is not about the score, it is about the players. To me, the big winners were Ian Kennedy and Brett Gardner.

Kennedy was masterful facing his six batters -- Strike Out, Fly Out, Walk, Ground Out, Fly Out, Single, Strike Out, Strike Out. The pitchers are always supposed to be ahead of the hitters this early, three of the four starters I saw this week were not. Kennedy is the one who was.

Gardner, with two hits and two stolen bases, is real and that complicates an already complicated Yankee outfield picture. Put his early Spring production alongside Melky Cabrera and Xavier Nady's 0 for 6 and you have to concede that there is now a race for the center field post. The Cabrera_Gardner thing is only one traffic jam that Joe Girardi has to sort out. There is also the left field/designated hitter dilemma.

Johnny Damon is now a left fielder. Matsui is a left fielder, with less range. Nick Swisher can play left field, but his bat is louder than his glove. None of the above could venture into right field where you also have to have some ability to first see and then reach the cut off man. Xavier Nady is the only legitimate right fielder in the bunch unless you want to include Justin Christian, who is more likely to join the minor league camp in due course, still looking for a way to hit.

On the Twins side, you had to feel sorry for Scott Baker and you might have wondered about Brian Duensing. Baker has been tagged with the opening day pitcher distinction, but the Yankees did not find him a challenge. And, Duensing, who would have liked to look good in front of the big team's coaches, didn't.

I enjoyed watching Mike Cuddyer bat. I have always heard the term, "Professional At Bat," and the only definition I can come up with is an at bat that wears down the pitcher and has a happy ending, although the happy ending part is not guaranteed. Here is Cuddyer facing Eric Hacker -- Hi Inside, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, High Inside, High Inside, Foul, Foul, sharply hit over the shortstop for a single.

Cuddyer, by the way, is involved in the Twins' version of the Yankees outfield grab bag. Cuddyer, Span, Kubel, Gomez and Young all competing for three field positions and a DH slot. I am guessing Kubel, who homered today, is the DH-designate and Young is the odd man out.

Coming attractions: Monday, I will be in Jupiter to watch the Cardinals and the Rays. And, this week, I will spend some time writing about economics and the business of baseball.

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